Chas Marsh and Travis Goodman, founders and owners of Jackson Hole Still Works, have no trouble conveying the essence of their business approach. “It’s part of our mission statement,” Chas says. “To create delicious spirits that make people smile.”
While that may be the duo’s end goal, there’s a lot more to Still Works than serving up craft cocktails and making people happy. When Chas and Travis launched the craft distillery in 2014, they wanted to pay homage to their home state and keep things local.
To that end, Still Works’ gin and vodka are made using non-GMO corn and organic oats sourced in Wyoming. “Our corn farmer grows an incredibly unique strain that thrives in the high mountain desert of the Bighorn Basin,” explains Chas, while Travis adds, “The oats come from an amazing family in Powell. We’ve become great friends with all of them.”
Every detail, down to the label, is reflective of that local vision. The label art for their Still Works Vodka is selected through an annual competition that asks artists to submit art evocative of the “Spirit of Wyoming,” and the Great Grey Gin bottle is permanently adorned with a piece by Katy Ann Fox, a local artist who took a chance on the brand before they had a product. These days, a print of Katy’s original Still Works label hangs at headquarters as a reminder of an instinct that became a defining aspect of the brand.
The realities of today are all thanks to a chance meeting in 2000. Since then, Chas and Travis have been in each other’s weddings, contemplated career moves in tandem, and, as Travis recalls, did plenty of “product testing well before we knew we were going to start this business.” But the idea of starting a business together is thanks to Travis’ mom, Judy, who made the suggestion over lunch while Chas was getting his MBA at the University of Denver. “Judy is a very convincing woman,” Chas explains, noting that the idea was particularly appealing when Chas found himself in a cubicle following but Chas says that, “Obstacles are not a negative, they’re just hurdles,” and Travis adds, “An opportunity for growth.”
The two deftly amalgamate their relaxed attitude with their extremely high product standards. “Making high quality spirits takes a lot of attention to detail,” Travis says. “And it is all worth it when we see people enjoying them … There have been so many positives to come from this business.”
In addition to making new friends across the state and securing a wonderful team of employees, it all comes back to keeping customers smiling. Chas describes, “Being at a bar, seeing a bottle we’ve created on the shelf, and someone enjoying a drink with our spirits is such a rewarding, incredible feeling.”